As an occasionally aspirant pundit, I follow the form of existing scribes quite closely. A friend who I consider an excellent newspaper columnist and I were recently discussing another, highly acclaimed columnist. “He’s brilliant and you have to read him,” my friend said, “but I’m surprised that he writes about such a narrow range of issues.”
According to my friend, a good columnist wakes up every day and thinks, “What’s the most important thing in the world that I could write about today?” A bit like some webloggers, perhaps?
Bill Safire is certainly an unmissable pundit (even if I disagree with 90% of what he says). Today he reveals some of his secrets: “Let me break all the rules of punditry and reveal the single source for this stunning report of musical chairs: It’s my thumb, on which I suck while I stare at the wall and dream up this stuff Here is the trick in the political prognostication dodge: Take what you know to be true and then play fast and loose with the possible.”
That final injunction “take what you know to be true and then play fast and loose with the possible” strikes me as a useful touchstone for a wide range of thinking about the future.